The Danger of Good White People

CNN’s “How ‘good White people’ derail racial progress,” by John Blake, is typically of contemporary antiracist discourse.

CNN Profiles - John Blake - CNN Enterprise writer/producer - CNN
John Blake, CNN’s Enterprise writer/producer

Blake consults The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) for this statistics: less than 13 percent of white students attend a school where a majority of students are black.

Stop and reflect on the absurdity of this factoid. Blacks are only around 13 percent of the US population. How would one propose substantially raising the percentage of whites going to majority black schools when blacks are not even the largest minority in America? Go ahead. Try to work out the math in your head.

Speaking of minorities, perhaps blacks might ask how it came to pass that they were demoted from the largest minority in America—while disproportionally relegated to impoverished neighborhoods in progressive-run cities. Maybe they should look into why the jobs blacks used to do are now occupied by members of the new largest minority. Whose policies accomplished that? (Hints: New Deal, Great Society).

CNN is all in on painting whites as racists, describing even white liberals as “dangerous” (we know they have assumed all along that conservatives are). Are whites dangerous because the neighborhoods where they are the majority do better on such key social metrics as education, health and well being, crime and violence, and entrepreneurial activities?

Why is the situation of racial inequality always pitched as a zero-sum game? “Unless more White people are willing to give up something to change the racial makeup of where they live and send their children to school, there will be no true racial awakening in America.” Give up what?

Civil War, Reconstruction, Civil Rights—these weren’t moments of “true racial awakening”? Who sneaked those three Amendments into the Constitution? How did the Civil Rights Act of 1964 happen? Did it happen?

Once more we see the work of antiracist ideology in erasing collective memory of American progress in race relations.

Why, if we are promoting racially-integrated communities and schools, do progressives push divisive identity politics? Who is it that teaches our children and tells their parents to see race first and persons second? Who is it that defines? (See the chart below.) Western norms and values, individualism and industriousness, as “white culture”? Who is it that systemically glosses over the chief determinant of life chances—social class.

Smithsonian Aspects of White Culture
Chart appearing on the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, subsequently taken down after a query from Newsweek.

If we want integration (and, of course, we do), then we need to get back to the ethics of humanism and the politics of social class. Stop saying colorblindness is “racist.” Stop demanding group rights over individual rights. Stop perpetuating the myth that individuals are meaningfully subdivided by race. Stop racially essentializing culture.

There are no laws stopping black people from living in majority white neighborhoods and sending their children to majority white schools. So knock off this nonsense about white people having to give up something for the sake of justice as if they are the cause of inequality and poverty in America.

Look instead at the structure of capital ownership and control. Determine which group actually controls the way life happens in a society run by corporations.

White people don’t run things. That’s not how it works. This is not an apartheid system. We got rid of that more than fifty years ago.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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